U.S. and Iran in Groundbreaking Talks

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreThe U.S. and Iran held direct talks over the weekend for the first time in 28 years, to try to help stabilize Iraq. Iran called the meeting “constructive” and “problem-solving.” (Wales.co.uk)AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img

Idaho Rehabilitates Scorched Land From Wildfires

first_imgJust how bad was Idaho’s worst wildfire last summer?“You literally had jack rabbits that were catching on fire. That’s how fast this thing was moving,” said Jon Hanian, a spokesman for Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R).The Murphy Complex blaze, as it became known, burned nearly 700,000 acres across the Gem State — an area just shy of the size of Rhode Island and double what has burned in southern California so far this week. Hundreds of animals perished, from deer to horses to speedy jack rabbits. When Hanian accompanied Otter on a 40-minute helicopter flight over the site of the inferno, all they could see from the sky was blackened earth, Hanian recalls.“I think it’s hard for most people, especially those who aren’t familiar with the wide open spaces out here in the West, to get an idea of how big an area we’re talking about,” he said.In response to the devastation, Otter this month has drummed up support for a statewide, citizen-led volunteer effort to rehabilitate all that torched land by replanting it with millions of sagebrush seeds. The greenish shrub is native to rangeland in Great Basin states such as Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Nevada, where it’s the official state flower.Sagebrush is a critical component of the local habitat, environmentalists say. The plant provides shelter for small and large creatures, food for animals including sage grouse, pronghorn and deer, and prevents erosion, according to the state Department of Fish and Game. This year’s fires in Idaho have burned more than 2 million total acres and created a huge need for the shrub.A shortage of commercially available seed has compounded the problem. While Idaho and the federal Bureau of Land Management already have bought millions of sagebrush seeds for the replanting effort, there isn’t enough to go around. Many of the areas where the seed is harvested commercially also went up in flames last summer.To address the shortage, Otter and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game have launched a publicity campaign to recruit as many Idahoans as possible — from prisoners to hunters to school kids, up to and including the governor himself — to collect the seed, starting in November, so wildlife officials can begin to replant some of the state’s charred land next spring.The message to Idahoans is simple: The state wants you!“We’re trying to get everyone who enjoys the outdoors or is interested in preserving it to help us in this effort,” Hanian said in a telephone interview with Stateline.org. The state welcomes “off-roaders, mountain bikers, hunters, falconers — it doesn’t matter,” he said.That includes Otter, a rancher who earlier this month posed with a hopper — essentially a large canvas bag into which seed is deposited — for a photo op to show potential volunteers how it’s done.Specifically, volunteers will strip the seeds — which are about the size of pin heads — from the sagebrush by hand. The seeds then will travel to a nursery, where they will be dried and cleaned. Finally, they will be spread across burned areas by helicopter or plane early next year.In name and more, the call to action echoes another grassroots initiative that took hold in Idaho and other western states during the 1970s and 1980s — the Sagebrush Rebellion, when residents banded together to demand more local control over the vast tracts of federally owned land that dominate the West. Otter, too, has embraced the tradition: In July, the first-term governor lambasted the federal government for complicating efforts to battle the Murphy Complex blaze.This time, however, the focus of the locals’ efforts isn’t on the federal government but on a much more unpredictable and, many would argue, unforgiving entity — Mother Nature.Wildfires hit Idaho worse than any other state this year, when 8.2 million acres have burned nationally, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates firefighting efforts from its base in Boise. California’s scattered fires this week burned about 335,000 acres as of Tuesday (Oct. 23), according to the center.Stifling heat, drought conditions and frequent thunderstorms — combined with the encroachment of cheatgrass, a highly flammable invasive weed — resulted in catastrophic blazes such as the Murphy Complex fire last summer and have wreaked havoc on sagebrush territory.Indeed, cheatgrass caused such a problem that Otter and the governors of three of the other states where sagebrush is common — Nevada, Utah and Wyoming — “declared war” on the foreign invader during a wildfire summit Aug. 6 in Boise. (See related story: States, feds try to keep up with wildfires)A diverse cross-section of Idahoans already is preparing to try to meet Otter’s call to duty.Inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise are building or repairing 80 hoppers to accommodate the expected influx of volunteers, according to the state Department of Correction. There’s a chance some of the prisoners could help collect the seed too, said Jeff Ray, a spokesman with the department.State representatives have visited Indian reservations and trained residents how to collect the seed, which the Department of Fish and Game will purchase, according to Mary Dudley, the department’s volunteer coordinator.High schools in Boise, meanwhile, are in a competition to see who can collect the most seed — even letting hundreds of students out of class to do so, said Darin Zarbnisky, an environmental science teacher at Borah High School.Zarbnisky has joined forces with Dudley to collect sagebrush seed every year since 1989 — though never, he said, on such a grand scale. (Stateline.org)AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreA year after the devastation from Idaho’s worst wildfire, Governor Otter has drummed up support for a statewide, citizen-led volunteer effort to rehabilitate torched lands by replanting it with millions of sagebrush seeds, a plant critical to the local habitat, which will provide shelter and food for wildlife while preventing erosion.last_img read more

Former Gang Member Finds Purpose in Cambodia

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore Tuy “K.K.” Sobil, a former gang member from California, has turned misfortune into opportunity, forming a dance and education center for Cambodian street boys. He has taken them under his wing after being deported from the US, teaching them his break dancing, as well as his hard lessons in life. (New York Times, Nov. 29, w/ photos) Thanks to Shanti for submitting the link! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img

Building a Bridge to Save Lives

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreThe Nithi River used to claim as many as 50 lives each year near the Kenyan villages of Kajuki and Mutino. But a Rotary club project between Meru, Kenya, and Middleton/Manchester, England, helped fund a new bridge that allows villagers to cross the river safely, while transforming the economies of  the communities in the process. Before the bridge was constructed, Mutino villagers had to make a 30 mile roundtrip journey  to cross the river at a safe point, making it difficult to reach Kajuki for supplies and medical services. Often in emergencies, villagers would try to ford the river, and many died as a result. (In this photo, Mutino villagers ford the Nithi River during the dry season, courtesy of John Brooker) “Life was never the same again for these people,” says Meru club president Julius Gatobu Mwithimbu, reflecting on the results of the project. “People started traveling from far away just to come and feel the joy of walking over this river that had previously claimed the lives of their loved ones.” During the July opening ceremony for the bridge, Mwithimbu and John Brooker, district grants subcommittee chair, stood side by side, struggling to hold back emotion as they watched a group of Kenyan women helping a pregnant friend wade across the river. The women were demonstrating what their lives had been like before the bridge’s opening. “It hit home to me when they took the pregnant woman across how important [the bridge] is. During the rainy season, the river can rise 2 meters high or more,” says Brooker. Humble beginnings The idea for the project, dubbed the Elliot-Poole Bridge, came to Brooker in 2005 after he saw an episode of the BBC television program Blue Peter. The show featured a boy named Elliot Inglis, who was visiting Kenya to help out with humanitarian projects. Brooker contacted the Inglis family and learned of the need for a bridge between Mutino and Kajuki. He also contacted the newly formed Meru club to see how he and his club could help. Mwithimbu reports that the bridge is still standing strong, even after two months of heavy rains. Twice before, the Kenyan government had attempted to build a bridge between the villages, but both structures were swept away during rainstorms. Brooker notes that the bridge has already begun to transform the villages’ economies. Mutino residents can easily bring their farm products to the Kajuki market, and they have access to government, school, and hospital services that would otherwise be unavailable. Several entrepreneurs have even built a hotel and restaurant near the bridge. “People were walking to the bridge, kneeling down, and praying — that’s how much it meant to them,” says Brooker. The clubs are collaborating on another Matching Grant project in Tharaka, Kenya, where they’re building tanks to collect water runoff from rocky outcrops in the landscape. They’re also in the process of applying for a Health, Hunger and Humanity Grant to help collect water for Kenyan villagers during the dry season. The Inglis family and several British Rotary clubs have already stepped up to raise money for the Meru and Middleton clubs’ collaborative projects. Story source for this and other good works projects: www.rotary.org (Thanks to my Italian friend, Managing Editor Sergio Tripi, at GoodNewsAgency.org for the story tip!) AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

Bright Spots in the Economy This Week

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore Highlight of some of the bright spots in the world’s economies: Stocks are up around the world as China and US economies rebound and American jobless claims fall Asian stocks jumped Thursday after China’s brisk economic growth quickened and U.S. companies posted stronger-than-expected quarterly results, boosting faith in a global recovery. European stock markets closed higher on Thursday as Wall Street saw three straight days of gains after better than expected U.S. jobless claims data fed into the prevailing view of an imminent U.S. economic recovery. New applications for unemployment insurance plunged by a seasonally adjusted 47,000, surprising experts who expected a surge of jobless claims. (Read more from AP) U.S. Housing Starts, Permits Jump in June New U.S. housing starts and permits jumped in June, propelled by a rise in ground-breaking for single-family homes and suggesting the battered housing sector was beginning to stabilize, a government report showed on Friday. Housing starts unexpectedly climbed 3.6 percent in June, Commerce Department data showed.  (Contine Reading in Reuters) The Worst of US Credit Crisis is Over, says Expert  The worst of the US credit crisis is over, and high-yield bonds are poised for modest gains in the second half of 2009, according to a veteran high-yield bond analyst. ‘Certainly what the market is saying is that we are well past the worst of the credit crisis,’ Martin Fridson, chief executive officer of Fridson Investment Advisors in New York told Reuters on Thursday. (Continue reading in Reuters) Canadian Conference Board says Slump All but Over  Canada’s painful recession appears close to an end after the economy received two key votes of confidence Monday suggesting the turnaround is just around the corner: A summer survey of businesses revealed an upbeat mood among Canada’s leading executives, with 39 percent planning to start hiring in the upcoming 12 months. The Conference Board of Canada also predicted the recession would finally end this summer. In a related development, home sales are up in June, with the largest markets of Toronto and Vancouver posting strong gains. (Continue reading in the Canadian Press) AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

US Aid Worker Released After 105 Days in Darfur

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreA Christian relief organization says its aid worker kidnapped in May in Sudan’s Darfur region was freed Monday.Samaritan’s Purse relief worker Flavia Wagner was held hostage for 105 days by kidnappers but now is doing well and looking forward to being reunited with her family in the United States.“We thank God that Flavia is safe and free,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “We appreciate the help of the government of Sudan and the United States government. “People around the world have been praying for her safety and her release. Today, those prayers have been answered.”Wagner, 35, was among three Samaritan’s Purse workers kidnapped May 18 when their two-vehicle convoy was stopped by a group of armed men 25 miles southwest of Nyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur. The other two workers—both Sudanese men—were released one week later.The people of Sudan suffered through more than two decades of civil war before a fragile peace agreement was reached in 2005, although the situation in Darfur went from bad to worse. Samaritan’s Purse has been helping the people of Sudan since 1997, providing food, shelter, clean water, agriculture assistance, medical aid, education, and vocational training programs, while rebuilding destroyed churches there.(Read more about their work in Darfur on their website, www.samaritanspurse.org)AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

40% off Subscriptions in Celebration of 15th Year of Good News!

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreCheck out the celebration going on here at the Good News Network, as we start our 15th year delivering News to Enthuse.Every day, members get a daily dose of uplifting news and reports to prove the world is getting better. Now you can join the good news revolution with a SPECIAL deal — available for two weeks only — or buy one for someone you love.Optimistic people live longer and have better heart and lung health, according to studies from Harvard and elsewhere. Get yourself a full year of good news for just $15.00. Included are a slew of membership bonuses you can download, like “How to Be Happier”, an audio interview with Harvard positive psychologist, Tal Ben-Shahar, author of the best-selling book, Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment.boost your emotional & physical healthJust log-in with your user name and password. After you log-in, click on BUY SUBSCRIPTIONS, and grab the $15 Holiday Special. You can choose to pay via Paypal or to send a check. This offer will disappear in 2 weeks. (I’ll post another reminder at the end of the month.)GIVE A GIFTYou can choose to give a gift to yourself or others with a simple credit card payment (or by sending a check). Click here for details…Start LIVING in a better mood with more optimism today — it averages out to just $1.25 per month!May GOOD bless!Geri Weis-Corbley, Founder and Managing EditorAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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